Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I already loved Louis CK. Have been hip to his genius writing for years and a fan of his comedy. His new eponymously named show on FX is a twisted delight to watch. It's raw, it's poignant, it's sly and it's sharply funny. The latest episode "Bully" has him being bullied by a high school jock in front of his date. Louie is humiliated by being forced to beg not to have his ass kicked in front of her. Afterwards, his date admits that this was a turn off for her even though, logically she knows Louie did the right thing.
Louie follows the bully home, all the way to Staten Island with the intent to talk to the bully's parents. We, of course get to see how and why the bully became a bully when his dad starts berating and hitting him. Meanwhile, Louie is chased out of the house by the equally violent mother, who takes offense to Louie's suggestion that they curb hitting their kids. The bully's dad comes out after Louie and you tense up in anticipation of what comes next...and here's the beauty of Louie...what comes next is totally unexpected. The two men share a smoke and a conversation about their respective fatherhoods and we learn that the bully dad became a dad at 20. At 20 we are still kids ourselves and the parenting we do is copied from what we know...Get it?
When my daughter was four, she used to hate having her hair washed. Baths were no fun - for either one of us. One evening, during the bath time war, I slapped her. And it reverberated like fireworks in my brain. It wasn't the first time I had hit her. Up until that point it had been smacks on the butt or hand but I also used the threat of spanking often. I was aping what I myself had experienced. But that evening...sitting on the floor of the bathroom, soaked from all the splashing, with my daughters cries echoing off the tiles...I just stopped. My spirit overrode my ego and my mind and said "no more." In that instant I realized that physical punishment was not something I wanted to perpetrate on my little girl. It doesn't work and the "punishments" always have to escalate to meet the ever increasing resistance.
My mother was the punisher in our house. I only ever remember my dad laying hands on me once. Not that he didn't react out of anger in other ways, like throwing a plate of spaghetti at the wall...but my battles with my mother were epic. She would come after me with whatever she could get her hands on and could inflict the most damage with. Her weapon of choice? Wooden cooking ladles, although she whipped a mean extension cord too. That went on until I was sixteen and one day just grabbed her wrists hard and said NO MORE. Those childhood experiences of violence at the hand of a parent - someone who loves us - are the foundation of how we love and parent as adults. You might think this sounds kind of psycho-babbly but it's true. Evidenced by the plethora of spanking/paddling porn.
That evening in the bathroom, I broke the cycle of violent parenting. I know there are a lot of kids out there who need tough parenting but that doesn't need to include corporal punishment.
Enough about me, back to Louie. A fantastic episode with a great message delivered in a clever way. Sometimes a spoonful of funny makes the medicine go down.
Rock on Louis C.K.!